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New year … the same age as you? Why we have the wrong resolutions

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By Gavin Newsham

Watch: How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

We’re not yet two weeks away in 2022, but most of those with New Year’s resolutions will have a hard time keeping them now.

Indeed, a survey carried out by sports social network Strava found that January 12 is the day most people call it a day and come back to seizure – they even call it “Quitting Day”.

While we all leave with good intentions, motivation often wanes and the goals you set for yourself just fall apart too easily. Bas Verplanken is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath.

A specialist in behavioral habits and health behaviors, he believes that if so many people fail to see through their New Year’s resolutions, it is because they underestimate the extent of the challenge they have faced. launched. “So many attempts fail because people just don’t realize how much their old habits are cemented into the circumstances in which they are performing them,” he says.

Good intentions … but will they last? (Getty Images)

But how do you overcome these moments of weakness or stop giving in to temptation? And what can you do to give yourself a much better chance of getting those resolutions to work?

Take “Dry January” where drinkers try to give up alcohol for the month. An understandable and often necessary abstention after Christmas drunkenness has become one of the most popular resolutions in recent years – not that we’re really good at it.

According to Professor Verplanken, only a quarter of us will have kept our resolutions by the end of January, while less than one in ten will have kept them all year round. This is confirmed by a recent survey by Volvic Touch of Fruit which has shown that more than half of Britons who give up alcohol in January typically give up before the second week of the month.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults also found that 21% know they won’t last all month and 30% would be happy if they could just stick to their plan for a fortnight. .

Read more: Reaching Your Resolutions: 7 Tips to Get Fit in 2022

Do you have a dry month of January?  Are you sure?  (Getty Images)

Do you have a dry month of January? Are you sure? (Getty Images)

The problem, says Professor Verplanken, is not only that we tend to set unrealistic goals for ourselves, but we also fail to set the stage for giving ourselves a better chance of success.

“People overestimate their ability to control their behavior and underestimate the power of the environment,” he says. Habits are controlled by the environment in which they occur, not by the will of people.

“Yes, we can get around habits, but if we don’t recognize the signals that trigger them, those signals will easily take over. “

Or, in other words, we tend to set an arbitrary January 1 date to start our new regime without first thinking about all the practical steps we might need to take first.

So if you’re looking to improve your diet or lose weight, try removing any items from the cupboard or refrigerator that you know are bad for you, or that you’ll be tempted by, and replace them with healthier options.

Selection of foods high in sugar, copy space

In the closet or on your own? (Getty Images)

And that’s not what we do. The Volvic survey, for example, found that 23% of those polled actually decide to leave their home, just to escape the many temptations inside.

“Find out how and when exactly old habits are triggered,” adds Professor Verplanken. Likewise, if your New Year’s resolution is to get fitter, first plan, realistically, how you plan to fit your new diet into your daily schedule.

If you don’t leave enough time to exercise, you are already fighting a losing battle.

If you are currently in the throes of resolutions and struggling to maintain your motivation, then maybe let go of one or two of them for now and focus on the one that is most important to you, because the evidence suggests that the more challenges you overcome, the more likely you are to fail on all fronts. In other words, don’t bite more than you can chew.

Read more: 18 resolutions to get rich in 2022

New year concept

Let’s start with a … (Getty Images)

When you experience setbacks you should think of them as hazards, temporary bumps in the road that you have to overcome to keep yourself in the right direction. Professor Verplanken suggests that you “anchor” your goals and intentions on a significant value, something that you truly cherish in life.

This way, you will be spurred on by success even when your inspiration and enthusiasm might wane.

You might also want to try to project yourself into your ideal future, imagining where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. “Keep in mind the benefits that await you,” says Prof Verplanken. “Try to put yourself in that future and go back to your old ways. Ask yourself how much happier, healthier and better such a future would be? “

An old sportswoman with a black plastic water bottle playing sports outdoors in the countryside.

It doesn’t have to be January – and it doesn’t have to be a lot. (Getty Images)

And remember, Professor Verplanken says, you don’t have to wait another 12 months to try again if your resolutions crumble and burn. Verplanken itself is an example.

Thirty years ago he intended to quit smoking as a New Years resolution, but soon realized he was only quitting in December – and he no longer smoked. since.

As he says now, “New Years Resolutions can be made any time of the year!

Watch: How To Keep Your New Years Resolutions